There was a time when the prevalent notion in the film industry was that the Romantic Comedy, usually abbreviated as a Rom-Com, had passed its expiration date as studios looked to other stories worth telling. Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Sandra Bullock no longer were packing theatres so audiences could experience meet-cutes with Hugh Grant or Tom Hanks. But the genre didn’t really go away. It just changed.
Producer-director Judd Apatow made a handful of unconventional rom-coms when he explored pregnancies, mid-life crises, and growing up through KNOCKED UP, THIS IS 40, and TRAINWRECK. One of his proteges, director Nicholas Stoller, tackled the rom-com through the lens of a break up in the classic FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. So now that the two of them are teaming up again for BROS, are we to believe that the rom-com is back for business? The short answer is: yes!
Bros Is As Sweet As It Is Funny
The new comedy BROS comes to us from the mind of Billy Eichner, an energetic comedian who shot to stardom through his hysterical man-on-the-street interviews during the series “Billy on the Street.” In BROS, which AMC Theatres screened as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, Eichner plays an older podcast host named Bobby who frequently comments on the difficulties of dating in the digital age. Truth be told, Bobby’s content to stay single, which – in true rom-com fashion – is right when he meets the perfect someone in Aaron (Luke Macfarlane).
If you know Billy Eichner’s comedy, then you understand exactly how funny BROS is going to be. There are hilarious cameos from several comedians and actors who have appeared alongside Eichner during “Billy on the Street.” And the BROS script mixes in razor-sharp pop-culture references that are common to Eichner’s act.
The surprise of BROS is exactly how sweet and relatable it is, primarily because the audience roots so hard for Bobby and Aaron to find a way to overcome all of the obstacles a traditional rom-com places in front of them on the road to happiness. No, there’s no sprint through an airport to stop a person from boarding an airplane… a classic rom-com staple. But there is genuine chemistry shared between Eichner and Macfarlane, and when the odds stack against them, you will root for them to figure out a way forward.
Bros Marks The Return Of Major-Studio Comedy
BROS doesn’t just signify the return of the rom-com, it marks a return to comedy in general from a major movie studio. For years, studios bet big on comedians such as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and other name-brand comedians to carry theatrical releases. But the landscape of available movies now leans heavily on superheroes, animated fare for families, and horror. And there’s plenty of room for that! But the major-studio comedy needs to make a comeback, and BROS brings laughs into theatres once again.
Ironically, the latest string of studio comedies tend to come from producer Judd Apatow, who finds a comedic voice he appreciates, then works with that person to construct a relatable narrative. Pete Davidson took a break from “Saturday Night Live” to be THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND, and comedian Amy Schumer let audiences know how much of a TRAINWRECK she felt her life had become.
Apatow works similar magic as a producer on BROS, with the help of NEIGHBORS director Nicholas Stoller, and they deliver a movie that will have you laughing just as much as you might be tearing up. BROS is a crowd-pleaser on multiple levels, especially if you are a fan of Billy Eichner prior to buying yourself a ticket.
BROS opens in theaters on September 30, and advanced tickets are available on AMC Theatres as we speak.